Persistent Silence and Outstretched Arms: Making a Millennial Monster and the Legend of Slenderman

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


From photo edit to cultural phenomenon, the character of Slenderman occupies a liminal space between folklore, screen media, and the internet. Originating in 2009 from an internet message board, Slenderman was the focus of a moral panic in 2014, when two young girls arrested for attempted murder cited the influence of the character on their actions. Slenderman was suddenly no longer restricted to the pages of the internet, and newspaper reports quickly declared the possibility of Slenderman being a ‘Tulpa’, a creature brought to life by communal belief, in this case enabled by internet communication. In examining Slenderman’s origin, as a monster constructed communally on the internet, where horror conventions were both recognised and re-negotiated, this paper will examine his place as an internet-based but uniquely transmedial monster.

This paper explores how Slenderman’s digital origin alters his monstrosity, contributing to the understanding of Slenderman as a transmedial monster, whose influence can be seen on the internet, in videogames, and most relevantly for this conference, in feature length films and Youtube serials. This paper will also examine Slenderman as an archetype for the recent trend towards repurposing internet-based horror for cinema and television, as seen in the television programme Channel Zero, which is part of the growing trend towards horror on the small screen.

With a focus on the YouTube serial Marble Hornets, which uses the stylings of found footage horror cinema, this paper demonstrates that although Slenderman references other monsters of the horror genre, and dwells in that mainstay of horror narratives, the woods, it is his positioning within a digital context that codes him as a monster of the millennium. This paper will therefore explore Slenderman as a legend born from the glow of a computer screen rather than the light of a campfire, which complicates his place in folklore and in the horror genre.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017
EventFear 2000: 21st Century Monsters - Sheffield Hallam University
Duration: 21 Apr 201722 Apr 2017


ConferenceFear 2000: 21st Century Monsters


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